Let me get this right! Everything I got (or didn’t get) everything good (or bad) that has happened to me, I brought on myself by the power of attraction. The reason I don’t win the Lotto to buy my little cottage in the west is not because the chance of choosing the correct numbers is one in eight million but because deep down I don’t think I’m worthy of having such a place. that is if the theory of the power of attraction is anything to go by.
And I do believe there is an element of truth in it so give me a second while I try and banish those unworthy thoughts from my head. If I really want to that is ….
My mother is a great believer in the power of attraction but she has another name for it.
She simply calls it ‘coincidences’.
You think about something and it happens.
She often spoke of writing a book about her coincidences but maybe her love of reading took up the time she could have spent writing.
So when I speaking to her on the phone today I told her I would write about one that I remembered her telling us about.
It took place maybe sixteen years ago
Picture this: My Mom, a plump woman with rosy cheeks, hair wrapped around her head in two plaits and my Dad, who would have been at the early stages of the chronic illness that killed him in the end (renal failure) with his colourful woolly hat (my mother was a wonderful knitter, another reason for her not to have time to write) covering his white hair.
They are sitting together in their little two berth caravan perched as near to the sea as they can physically get away with without toppling into the water, in the middle of nowhere on a sunny summers eve.
The reason they are inside is it has been an incredible day for the west of Ireland and they are trying to escape the heat.
They have the front window open as high as it can go, a bit like the serving window of a chipper van, and a cool evening breeze is coming in off the sea.
My dad has his binoculars out and is watching a boat making its way slowly across the bay.
Mom is relaxing back, eyes closed, listening drowsily to his running commentary.
‘For gods sake they all have life jackets on. How can you enjoy a spin out in a boat encumbered with a hot life jacket, complete eejits’ My dad was well used to boats.
He could swim and was not afraid of the water and we eight children who spent our days with him rowing him around various lakes, never wore life jackets either and none of us were ever lost to the water.
‘Louis’ my mom said mildly, rousing herself from her stupor ‘Everyones different, after all’ she continued smiling ‘Not many men think your boat snorkel trick normal’.
My dad had made a habit of rowing himself out into the middle of the bay, pulling in the oars, putting on a mask and snorkel and sticking his head underwater so that he could watch fish and hermit crabs, textures of seaweed and all other manner of things that snorkelers snorkel for without getting the rest of himself wet.
A bizarre and alarming sight for anyone on the beach to behold, as one end of the dingy and my fathers arse would be way up in the air.
‘I think my snorkeling method is ingenious’ He sniffed.
My dad did not like to be laughed at.
‘Have it your own way but remember you could be dead with your head hanging in the water, and I wouldn’t have a clue’ my mother was struggling to squeeze out of the small space between the seat and the table.
‘Well’ my father retorted ‘what difference would it make then, you wouldn’t be able to swim that far to save me, and I always wanted to die at sea anyway’
‘I’m going to make some tea’ My mother for ever the peacemaker, did not rise to the bait, but busied herself lightening the tiny gas stove and filling the kettle from the water can by the door.
Dad put down his binoculars and started to complete a fly he was tying and Mom picked up her book ‘The green cockatrice’ and settled herself on the seat while waiting for the kettle to boil.
Peace reigned again in their little home broken only by the throb of the boat engine and my mothers interested noises as she turned the pages.
I should mention here that my parents made this journey every year, usually with a string of us in tow, a larger caravan and an assortment of tents and boats and whatever family pet was in vogue at the time. (I was once fooled when encouraged to bring my large family of pet mice along and some mouse hating member of the family let them loose in a field never to be found again. Such trickery was common in my family)
This was the first year my fathers precious but ancient volvo estate would pull the two berth caravan purchased for just the two of them.
They did the five hour journey in just under two days. Driving along at a snails pace looking at this and that, delighted for once to be without their unruly brood.
They camped the night on the side of the road at the ballinahinch lakes. Two elderly fragile people with not much between them and the elements and with no fear in their hearts.
But back to the caravan
‘We should really go to the shops’ My mom sighed as the kettle began to boil loudly. She was rooting in a cupboard. ‘
‘We’ve only got the brown bread I made this morning (the caravan had a small oven, My Dad would only eat homemade bread) and butter! There might be an egg. Its really too nice an evening to go anywhere by car’.
My dad finished winding the silver thread around the head of the fly and snipped the last knot with a flourish and began packing away his fly tying equipment.
‘I’m too tired to go up’ He stretched lazily ‘But what I wouldn’t give now for a glass of red wine’
‘And a few mackerel to go with the bread’ My mom was feeling hungry now.
With that a hand appeared through the open window, waving a bottle of red wine, the hand was swiftly followed by a smiling face.
‘May! Louie!’ A voice called ‘Woohoo anyone at home?’
My dad nearly jumped out of his trousers with fright but my mom recognised the face and gave a shout of pleasure ‘Eithne! how are you? how did you get here?, we didn’t hear a car?’
‘Oh’ Eithne leaned in and plonked the bottle of wine on the table. ‘We came over in our new boat, we have some Mackerel too, Bob’s just cleaning them down at the shore’.
She nodded her head towards the sea where a figure was bent over a bucket and a flock of seagulls were jostling for space nearby.
‘This is unbelievable’ said my mom ‘Louis and I were just saying how we would love some wine and mackerel and here you are with both’
She stood shaking her head in disbelief as my dad scooted out from behind the tiny table and rooted in a cupboard for the bottle opener and some glasses,
‘What a coincidence’ her face was almost split in two with the widest of smiles.
Wait’ll, I open the door for you’ She shimmied past her husband and headed to the other end of the caravan.
When she opened the caravan door there was an elderly woman standing beside Eithne.
‘This is Elizabeth Hickey, she is a writer’ Eithne introduced the silver haired woman to my mother
‘Come in and sit down, apologies for the smallness of space’ My Mom lifted her book out of the way and let the two women slide along the seat.
By this time My dad had not only glasses and bottle opener on the table but plates and knives and forks as well.
‘I must tell you about that book in a minute’ My mom had seen Elizabeth eyeing it curiously.
Within minutes Bob arrived up with the cleaned mackerel and the four were sitting around the table sipping wine, chatting and nibbling at my mothers freshly baked bread while my mother stood frying the mackerel fillets in butter.
Chat and laughter and the glorious smell of freshly fried fish drifted out of the open caravan window as my mother slid the last of the fillets onto a plate. Then sitting down herself on a stool at the end of the table she joined the vibrant conversation interspersed with sounds of delighted munching and slurping of wine.
My dad raised his glass ‘To boats and the sea and rescues by friends’
‘Yes good friends and camping and wine’ Bob added.
‘To fishermen and writers’ Eithne raised her glass too and they all clinked companionably.
‘Oh Speaking of writers’ My mother lifted up the book from where she had shoved it out of the way.
She turned to the woman on her left.
‘Elisabeth, this is a most fascinating book. Are you are interested in History?’ She held up the book for her neighbour to see.’ Its about the theory of how Shakespeare may well have been an Irishman, incredible stuff’.
Eithne, about to take a sip of wine, exploded with laughter into her glass instead.
‘What?’ My Mom and Dad looked puzzled. ‘Whats so funny’?
Eithne wiped her eye’s
‘You’re talking to the Author’ She said at last when she had managed finally to catch her Breath.
My Mom’s mouth fell open in disbelief ‘That can’t be’ she said.
She looked from Eithne to Elizabeth, her mouth still open.
‘Three coincidences on the same day? Impossible! Anyway look! Its written by someone called Basil Iske’
‘Basil Iske is my pseudonym’ Elizabeth Hickey smiled.
Maybe My Mom fell off the stool at that point, maybe they all fell off their seats laughing at her amazement.
She continued to tell this story for many years afterwards.
It is her favourite mainly because though she had many more coincidental incidences she never again had so many on the same day or in a more beautiful place.
The middle of nowhere where my parents loved to head to with or without their large brood.